The Playground

What is an inclusive playground?

Before looking at what an inclusive playground is, let's look at the 7 Principles of Universal Design (Center for Universal Design, NC State University, 1997) and the 7 Principles of Inclusive Playground Design (Center for Persons with Disabilities, Utah State University).

PlayCore, 7 Principles of Inclusive Playground Design

So what does it mean?

Utah State University's Center for Persons with Disabilities used the original 7 Principles of Universal Design, and modified them in order to meet the needs of playgrounds. They changed the wording in order to show how children want to "be" in their play environment. Taking these 7 Principles into account, and looking at the current play opportunities that are available, it's clear to see that what we are currently offering does not meet the needs of our students.

What can we do?

Surfacing

Firstly, we need to remove the woodchips. All playgrounds are required to have a shock absorbent ground cover, but it is not a requirement that it be woodchip based. Woodchips, and other loose-fill surfacing, are often held in the playground area with wooden posts which limits the access for wheel based mobility systems. Additionally, attempting to push a wheelchair or stroller over a woodchip based ground cover proves to be quite difficult.

The alternative is called Unitary Surfacing. One option of unitary surfacing is called Poured in Place (PIP) Rubber Surfacing. This option still provides the same shock absorbency of woodchips, but has a smooth surface that is ideal for not only wheel based mobility systems, but also students with vision deficits such as difficulties with depth perception. While this type of surfacing has a larger upfront cost to loose-fill options, it generally requires limited maintenance.

Structures

The structures themselves need to be accessible. There are many different options for accessible playground equipment. Adding ramps allows wheel based mobility systems to access more parts of the structure. Additionally, sensory panels and musical pieces add multiple elements that are available for all students to use.

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One option from Miracle Recreation.

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One option from Miracle Recreation.

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One option from Miracle Recreation.

More drawings from other Playground Builders coming soon!